Psalm 62: In God Alone

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

–Psalm 62:1, 2 (ESV)

The words “only” and “alone” appear so frequently in Psalm 62 that it is sometimes dubbed “the Only Psalm.”  What’s more, these words are central to the overall theme of the psalm: The only God alone is the only Savior of his people and Judge of the world.  David considers his opening statements so important that he repeats them almost verbatim in verses 5 and 6, in addition to rephrasing them throughout this song.  “On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (vv. 7, 8).

110, “My Soul in Silence Waits for God”

Psalter Hymnal number 110 is one of those tricky “4-star” psalm versifications.  It gets off to a rocky start with some mix-ups of the original text: repeating vv. 5, 6 (which are themselves a repetition of vv. 1, 2) in the second half of the first stanza, yet completely skipping v. 3.  “My Soul in Silence Waits for God” ends on a somewhat better note, however, since its versification of the rest of Psalm 62 is fairly accurate.

What puzzles me most about this setting is how different it is from the 1912 Psalter’s version.  There, “My Soul in Silence Waits for God” comprises nine C.M. (not C.M.D.) verses, all in the correct order.  It seems that the trouble started when the creators of the Psalter Hymnal tried to cut down on the number of stanzas.

I’ve got better things to say about the music used here.  A rousing 4/4 tune, SERAPH has the stability and confidence needed to emphasize the theme of the psalm: “He only is my rock and tower/I never shall be moved.”  My only complaint is that this harmonization is terribly boring compared to the same tune in number 386, “How Vast the Benefits Divine.”  The ascending scales in the tenor and bass parts have an exciting way of notching up the fortitude of this music.

Before we leave number 110, it ought to be noted that the 1912 Psalter also contains a very similar versification of Psalm 62, set to the tune of “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.”  This setting has only two stanzas, the same as verses 1 and 5 of the version here.  It has a distinctive “gospel” feel, as opposed to this version’s more dignified sense, but it still presents an interesting alternative.  Below is the Psalm Choir’s rendition.

For God has spoken o’er and o’er,
And unto me has shown,
That saving power and lasting strength
Belong to Him alone.
Yea, loving-kindness evermore
Belongs to Thee, O Lord;
And Thou according to his work
Dost every man reward.

–MRK

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